Days of Change

Trump and / or Bust

October 10, 2016
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In 2004, Democrats were beaten with their collection of weak candidates and lousy strategy. George Soros was ineffective and John Kerry had no political instincts. All things being equal, it would be hard to beat Republicans on this equal playing fired. A year earlier, the book Moneyball came out. It was the Democrats’ new strategy for cheating. Don’t appeal to voters, target them.

Democrats (mostly) ditched paying people in crack for collecting voter registrations and throwing out the ones that say “Republican.” Instead, they went about the business of profiling. When you accept the terms of service, there’s a good chance that information can be sold for marketing. Also, any political donation is public record, as well as party registration.

The Democrats became marketers. So, along with your political activity, your biographical information, shopping habits and geographical data are all used to win elections. Why worry about states that aren’t close, or people who are consistent GOP donors? It’s a better idea to find the neighborhoods densely populated with Democrats and bus them to the polls. That’s what we call big data.

Republicans have been pretty bad at big data. In a way, that’s good for a party that prides itself on liberty. However, it also makes it more expensive to win the voters you need. This was poised to be the emergence of big data in the Republican Party. Cruz used data to beat Trump in New Hampshire, even though Trump had momentum.

Data is pretty much out the window. Even if Trump gave it more than a passing interest, there’s not really enough money to support it. Instead, he decided to rely on his charm, which is a product of his ego. So, when he doubles down on red meat instead of trying to increase that 40% support he has, it’s because the people who love bomb him are his people. A couple hundred thousand people come to see the train wreck at rallies and that means more to him than 130 million American voters.

Those Republicans who were slow to adopt data also believed that crushing Trump in the primaries would hurt them in the general election. Now, it seems that GOP politicians can no longer accept Trump and his minions no longer accept the GOP. This last month is a dog whistle stop tour where Trump will create an imaginary Great America where he is king and the Trump or Die contingent will enforce his reign.

It looks like another rebuilding year for the GOP, except that the Tea Party is sick of them, the religious conservatives are disgusted by them and the undecided voters have already been targeted by the winners and still champions for the past decade.

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You Can’t Have Him Either

October 9, 2016
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There’s been speculation that Trump ran for president to grow his brand and get a bigger contract for his main source of personal income, money paid to him by NBC for The Apprentice. Once the boycotts began, NBC was off the table and growing his brand in infamy was all that was left.

I thought this Redstate post summed up the way I look at the Trump phenomenon. It seems most Trump supporters didn’t start out seeing him as their personal savior. Instead, he was the guy who would not back down against the media, use their talking points about Benghazi and Bill Clinton’s rape allegation and not worry about GOP retribution because it’s DC or bust.

One of the arguments I heard after the convention is that Ted Cruz supporters were deluded if they thought he would have gotten anywhere near the nomination if Trump were not in the race. In truth, many Trump fans stared out thinking he would clear the way for a Cruz victory. Would Jeb have won the nomination with no Donald Trump in the race? I doubt it. However, I think Marco Rubio had a good chance.

The Trump campaign is a contrarian strategy. Run to the right (or the sort of pro-life, morally flexible and low tax but for government programs way) and keep going. Don’t give the establishment the ability to do nothing anymore like with Obama. Truly, if the GOP had acted like the cornered animal they did when Democrats had all 3 branches, this may never have happened.

For people like me, compromise is bad in legislation, but it is also bad in candidate selection. A Trump victory means that personality prevails over ideology. Clinton has no personality and is all ideology. But if she loses, another Obama emerges, who has all the techniques to manipulate the population, but is a hard core Democrat.

Unfortunately, the acid test is for Trump to lose. If that happens, the complainers will learn that politics is a game and professionals are required. That can change, but it won’t be quick or easy. Trump is all quick and easy.

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What Did You Think Would Happen?

October 8, 2016
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I was tempted to save this title for the election day post, but it is probably the best time to get into this. The true believers have already entered the denial and anger stage where they think it’s no big deal and that the Clinton campaign is desperate.

The fact is every campaign is desperate to win. Instead of throwing money and resources everywhere, Clinton is slowly making states unwinnable for Trump with the use of targeted advertising and data analysis. If you think the media is helping them, you are right. I have no doubt that the media saved significant amounts of dirt for October. Alicia Machado was an opening salvo. They wanted to make sure Trump would blame the accuser and not issue an apology. Now, the accuser is a tape.

My theory is that Clinton would exploit the tradespeople that Trump screwed over for years. I suspect the campaign’s data did not back that up. The working class people who like Trump probably didn’t respond to some people who worked for Trump whining about not getting paid enough for their shoddy work. The sexism attack does two things. First, it cuts Trump off from the college educated women who don’t like Hillary but felt weird about voting for Trump. Now, they have an excuse not to. Also, it cuts off Trump’s support among Republicans and donors.

Trump voters had a chance to see what he was about after the rape allegation story came out last year. They chose to ignore it and assume the worst had come out. Worse yet, the despicable Reince Priebus decided to threaten any Republican who didn’t support Trump with serious penalties in the next presidential race. That made sure that almost every Republican name was sullied by Trump.

I swear, someone on Team Clinton must be a fan of “The Last Starfighter.” They pulled a freaking death blossom here. Wait until all your enemies are in range and throw everything you have at them.

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Hatred and More Hatred

October 7, 2016
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Most Americans don’t like Hillary Clinton. I suspect that most Americans don’t like Donald Trump either, but he is amusing and has the quality of saying it like it is that fulfills the fantasy of telling off assholes we don’t like. In general, people don’t like either of them.

Trump benefited from telling off the GOP candidates earlier this year because most Republicans kind of hate the people that have been put up as candidates. Instead of running to the right of the other candidates, he went off into a no man’s land where a Great Wall of America keeps out Mexicans, illegals are rounded up like cattle and Muslim-Americans wait in long lines to be let back in the US because the foreign Muslims are being tortured. Enhanced interrogation wasn’t enough for Trump.

In normal years, a Republican has to run back to the center to win undecideds while keeping as many of the base as possible. Trump’s support is almost exclusively his base. However, Hillary Clinton is so hated by even her own party that both candidates are effectively within the margin of error of each other.

On the eve of the town hall, a video from an Access Hollywood outtake shows Trump talking about how he picks up women. It’s about what you’d expect.

Rather than belabor the point, this is exactly what Trump opponents from the primary not only feared, but knew would happen. The Democrats have no limits of propriety or relevance to governing  for a news story. Trump trash is news. They are riding the news cycle. Only hours before, Alicia Machado announced she would no longer speak to the media, no doubt because he shady past was brought to light. Instead of allowing breathing room, it created a news hole perfect for the next Trump story.

I agree with the Trumpers that the media is in the tank for Hillary. That just means the stories will keep coming and possibly be worse each time. What ad does Clinton have ready to bring up in Sunday’s debate? I suspect that Trump hasn’t had a real chance since Ted Cruz said to vote your conscience at the convention. Instead, Clinton is working a quiet ground game to win the White House and the Senate, which will hand her the Supreme Court. All the NeverTrumpers in America won’t reverse that.

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Hating Cruz is Playing Trump’s Game

October 6, 2016
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Although libertarians often worship at the altar of Ayn Rand, one of her central beliefs was there there were certain supermen who were superior to ordinary men. They were meant to throw off the shackles of state oppression and rule instead. The problem with a meritocracy is that people who rule can thwart democracy and the freedom of individuality.

Now, your average Trump devotee will claim Donald is a superman. He created an empire and his name has become a household word around the planet, even before running for president. I would argue that Fred Trump is more likely the superman. He was the son of immigrants, and started working in construction as a teenager. Fred Trump eventually started building and selling housing until he became the real estate mogul of Queens. He also managed to a daughter who became a federal judge and a son who was not that bright, but able to use his father’s money and connections to buy off important people and stiff the little people.

On top of the news that Ted Cruz supports Trump now, another humiliation is a video of Cruz making calls for Trump. That’s surprising in itself, as he has few offices open.

Another chapter unfolded in the rathole of bitterness that is the NeverTrump blogosphere. Cruz sold out his principles. Cruz isn’t the savior of the movement. Why did he ever give us hope? Ted Cruz is a Republican and the leadership told him that there will be punishment if he continues to avoid Trump. Yes, Cruz could have said no and been primaried or he could have quit and become a Libertarian or something. However, he wants a political future, he made his point weeks ago and defiance will make him about as electable as Evan McMullin.

All the people who have chosen Cruz as their superman are just as bad as Trump supporters or the people waiting for Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012. If Ted Cruz is the only man in Congress who fights for your ideals, it’s time to get some more people like Cruz in Congress. There will never be freedom as long as we argue about which strongman we want to rule us.

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October 5, 2016
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There are three separate TV shows using changes in history as a plot device this season. There’s CW returning series “The Flash.” They’re retelling a DC Comics story line called “Flashpoint” where Barry Allen uses his ability to travel in time to change his tragic past. Unfortunately, the fundamental rule of TV time ravel applies, changing things only makes them worse. Timeless on NBC is the story of time travelers recruited to stop a group of history terrorists being guided with what looks like a journal from the future. Then there’s the FOX remake of Frequency, where a woman tries to stop one tragedy and instead creates more.

Memory is not a unique trait among human beings, but the game of “what if?” probably is. Regret is wishing you made a different decision, but sometimes one wonders what would happen if they made a complete left turn out of nowhere. I think stories about time travel, like much of science fiction, are about the human condition.

Many stories of time travel end up where the change to history is the wrong decision. In many cases, time tends to follow the path is was meant for. With that in mind, knowing who you are is more important that one or two things you did in the past.

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The Election Was Decided Tonight

October 4, 2016
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Just kidding.

It looks like Team Trump won the debate on points, but Mike Pence is only the VP candidate. Next up is Trump vs. Hillary.

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That Which Remains

October 3, 2016
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Of all the hundreds of millions of American adults, the hundred million who might actually vote and the ones who will actually show up, there are only three groups that matter now. There are the ones who might vote for Trump, the ones who might vote for Clinton and the ones who won’t vote for either.

While the campaigns can still get donations in the last 5 weeks, there’s less to be done with the money since the targeting is well underway. Supporters are practically useless now, except for the ones who need motivation (or motor transportation) to get to the polls. It is time to cater to the truly undecided voter and damned if I know who they are.

First of all, the Trump campaign now depends on the failure of traditional political calculus. By that measure, he is only slightly ahead of where John McCain or Mitt Romney were at this point. Trump is lacking in both field offices and data analysis compared to Clinton, two things that can pull a couple more percentage points on election day.

Even if Trump can run a national campaign, mostly devoid of targeted advertising, he still needs to raise his ceiling above the 46% that has only gotten lower since the convention. That requires people who are not currently voting for Trump to vote for Trump. One theory holds that people are afraid to tell pollsters (which are often computerized prompts anyway) they like Trump or hate the machine so much they refuse to talk to them. However, they seem to have no problem voting in internet polls, especially after a call to arms on Reddit or 4chan.

Hillary’s home stretch is to use her current peak to lock down early voting. This is part of big data, knowing who probably supports you and nagging them until they vote because they will still probably choose you even if it’s to get you off their back. Trump is still doing the rally thing, feeding off large crowds waiting for the thing he says that gets on the news that night.

Trumpers are getting even more belligerent about that group of people planning to vote for someone other than Trump. Besides 7% for Gary Johnson, lonely loser Even McMullin is even at 2% in some polls. I imagine if their total vote exceeds the margin that Trump loses by, it’s going to be as bad as the reaction to the Ralph Nader campaign in 2000.

If you take the people who decided months ago and the ones who live in states that aren’t competitive, there’s a cohort of about half a million people who are just now deciding the presidency.


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The Campaign of Anger and Denial

October 2, 2016
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When Mitt Romney was pretty clearly winning the primary contest in 2012, I got into the head space that Romney was going to win and that Barack Obama was trying, but ultimately unable to pull it off. Romney was close, but he tried to court former Obama supporters at the expense of ignoring conservatives who weren’t sure about him.

Donald Trump is going a different way. He is betting that he can keep serving up red meat to a base of people who would usually stay home for the Republicans during a general election with the hope that Hillary Clinton can’t get her people out. If he loses big, well, he still has a story to tell and some money in the bank from the RNC renting Trump Tower.

Thus is the story of his tax return.

Much like the soldier about to go on a dangerous mission, Trump supporters only feel fear at the prospect that America will not be great again if the mission fails. Most responses to anything Trump are anger and denial. Anger over the tax returns was this morning. Claims flew that someone committed a federal crime. Denial was this afternoon. The leak would only prove that Trump is a smart businessman for turning a massive loss into an opportunity to not pay tax. The most fun theory of the Donald Trump tax return is that Trump himself leaked it. Of course, the Trumpers are saying that because Trump controls all.

Wow. They are even betting their sanity on a Trump win at this point. That’s part of the bargaining. Hillary Clinton and the New York Times itself are just as guilty of tax dodging. The problem is that the Trump campaign is full of hyperbole and exaggeration. Instead of focusing on Hillary saying Sanders supporters are living in their parent’s basement, (which actually indicts Obama’s economy more than the supporters) we have tweets arguing that Venezuelan beauty queens can be called fat house keepers as long as they’re sluts. I suppose that’s all according to plan as well.

I hope Trumpers can declare bankruptcy on their souls when they try to buy them back next year.

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Close, But No Cigar Jokes

October 1, 2016
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In the last 6 presidential elections, the Republican has gotten the plurality of the popular vote once, George W. Bush in 2004. Before that, it was George H.W. Bush in 1988. That was likely helped by Ronald Reagan’s electoral coattails. Going back to 1988, here are the percentages.

Year     R     D     Span
1988   53    46         7
1992   37    43         6
1996   41    49         8
2000   48    48        0.5 (1 decimal point)
2004   51    48         3
2008   46    53         7
2012   47    51         4

In 1988, Bush blew away Dukakis by 300+ Electoral votes. Since then, Democrats win by 100 EVs when it’s close (2012) and about 200 when it’s not (2008). The last Republican victory in 2004 was only by 35. A shift of 3% of the vote in the 4 closest red states would have thrown the election to the House of Representatives.

What’s the point of all this? Today, the aggregate of state polls have Clinton ahead of Trump by 100 EVs. However, the leads in the states that decide the race are less than 3%, within the margin of error. Democrats are trying to convince themselves of a coming landslide, but if Trump doesn’t win, he could get extremely close.

The people opposed to Trump would like to believe than they can make the GOP great again by Trump losing and teaching a lesson to the rabble that they need the Republican elite as much as the elite need them to vote and shut up. The problem comes in if Trump loses by just 2% of the popular vote or by just a few Electoral Votes. In that case, a deeply flawed candidate with an inconsistent message beat two seasoned political veterans, namely John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Ironically, I welcome this message. 2014 is the template for a new Republican strategy. Let the establishment and the Tea Party candidates run in the primaries. If the Tea Partier wins, the GOP helps them win the seat. Work together and use the free market to decide.

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